Non Ordained Theologians

Discussion in 'Puritan Literature' started by Scott Bushey, Mar 6, 2018.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Considering that one of the qualifications for the eldership is being "able to teach", how would we ever measure if a man is able to teach if he is absolutely forbidden from teaching theology prior to his ordination?

    BTW, one of the best lay theologians was a Member of Parliament and contemporary of the Westminster Assembly, Edward Leigh.
  2. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Of course, we also need to remember that the logical conclusion of such clericalist thinking is that the layman is not allowed to express an opinion on theological matters because he is not a minister or elder. I am not exaggerating. Whenever I opposed heterodox theology proper in a certain denomination, I was effectively told that I should not have raised the matter as I was not an elder, that I should blindly accept the Synod's endorsement of heresy even though they did not give me a hearing, and I was even told by one cleric that I had no right to question him on either his interpretation of scripture or the Westminster Confession.

    Last time I checked the Bible, I seem to recall it saying something about the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints, not to the clergy or eldership.
  3. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Really? That would never happen in the URC according to a few Ministers I’ve spoken to throughout the years. I do Love my Baptist brethren btw; but they need to join a True Church.
  4. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    That came out wrong possibly? Anything less than doctrinal perfection (or what you consider doctrinal perfection), is not a "True Church"?
  5. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Belgic Confession
    Article 29: Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs from the false Church.
    We believe, that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in the world assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here of hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not of the Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and communion of the true Church must be distinguished from all sects, who call themselves the Church. The marks, by which the true Church is known, are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin: in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself. With respect to those, who are members of the Church, they may be known by the marks of Christians: namely, by faith; and when they have received Jesus Christ the only Savior, they avoid sin, follow after righteousness, love the true God and their neighbor, neither turn aside to the right or left, and crucify the flesh with the works thereof. But this is not to be understood, as if there did not remain in them great infirmities; but they fight against them through the Spirit, all the days of their life, continually taking their refuge in the blood, death, passion and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, "in whom they have remission of sins, through faith in him." As for the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in his Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other.
  6. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    So you are using this to imply that a Reformed Baptist church that is faithful in every way, but practices believer's baptism, is a false church that "ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ?"

    And that this church "relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God?"

    Brother, I am just a layman, but I advise you to talk to your elders about this, if this is indeed what you are charging any and every Reformed Baptist church with.

    I would also talk to the moderators of this board, for they have fallen woefully short of their admission and membership standards if a portion of us are members of sects and false churches.
  7. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not continental reformed, but it is a legitimate question - Can a church that doesn't acknowledge the existence of sacraments properly administer sacraments?
  8. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Im Referring to the part of proper administration of the Sacraments. Pertaining to Baptism. And yes the Reformed Churches well atleast the Continental ones and the Conservative Presbyterian one’s will view Baptist Churches in this way. They wouldn’t call baptist churches Reformed either but that’s for another thread or time.

    Belgic Confession
    Article 34: Of Holy Baptism.
    We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law, hath made an end, by the shedding of his blood, of all other sheddings of blood which men could or would make as a propitiation or satisfaction for sin: and that he, having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, hath instituted the sacrament of baptism, instead thereof; by which we are received into the Church of God, and separated from all other people and strange religions, that we may wholly belong to him, whose ensign and banner we bear: and which serves as a testimony to us, that he will forever be our gracious God and Father. Therefore he has commanded all those, who are his, to be baptized with pure water, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost": thereby signifying to us, that as water washeth away the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized, when sprinkled upon him; so doth the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath, unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass, to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan. Therefore the ministers, on their part, administer the sacrament, and that which is visible, but our Lord giveth that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts, and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of his fatherly goodness; putting on us the new man, and putting off the old man with all his deeds. Therefore we believe, that every man, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we cannot be born twice. Neither doth this baptism only avail us, at the time when the water is poured upon us, and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life; therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, whom we believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised, upon the same promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed his blood no less for the washing of the children of the faithful, than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of that, which Christ hath done for them; as the Lord commanded in the law, that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ's suffering and death, shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, that baptism is for our children. And for this reason Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ.
  9. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    To be fair, it is our Confessions that call them "sacraments," not the Bible (though I fully agree that they are, and reject the "ordinance" language of Baptists as incomplete), and Reformed Baptists don't claim to subscribe to our Confessions in this area. Thus, they would reject the provision of administering "sacraments" as being of the essence of the church.
  10. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

  11. PeterR

    PeterR Puritan Board Freshman

    But the URC is a Dutch church. Presbyterian churches are generally Scottish or Irish in heritage. In many cases here in the UK that means they are more pragmatic about using non-ordained people to lead and give an address during public worship (whether they officially call that preaching or not). Whether this is influenced by the wider historic evangelical culture of Independents, Baptists, Methodists, and Plymouth Brethren, I don't know. I believe school teachers had a role to play in the expansion of the Reformed religion in the remoter parts of Scotland in the past.
  12. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Of course, the deacon is ordained to a task which is not of which we are speaking. BTW I would include RE in my statement.
  13. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Is there room to write or publish under the oversight of elders?
  14. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    At the risk of derailing this thread (perhaps we need a new one?), what is your definition of a "sacrament," as opposed to an "ordinance?" What are the ways in which the Presbyterians view the Lord's Supper differently than confessional baptists?
  15. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The sacraments are likened to a cell phone; There is an amount of spiritual mystery to the sacraments (yea, I said that!). Since the reformed believe that God can at times, use the waters of baptism to regenerate individuals, one can see that there is a presence there that is not at other times. The same can be said of the LS; we do not see the supper becoming the actual body and blood of Christ, yet, it is more than just bread and wine. They are holy convocations.

    Coming from a baptist background, the difference is that which I have stated. As Ben has mentioned, ordinance vs sacrament.

    Lastly, worship is preaching, prayer, singing, lawful oaths and vows and sacraments.
  16. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Have you joined a URC church now?
  17. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Professed my faith 8 years ago at the URC. Been a member of the Visible Church since then. And in good standing.
  18. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Was speaking of Reformed Churches I have visited throughout my past when I posted that post. I believe the gentleman had asked me if I ever visited a PCA before.
  19. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Scott, do you have citations for the statement ..."the reformed believe that God can at times, use the waters of baptism to regenerate individuals..."?
    How is this different from the erroneous notion of baptismal regeneration?
    And just to be clear, the Reformed Baptists believe that when two or three are gathered in Jesus' name to worship, His presence is there in a more special (you can use mystical if you like), way than among believers alone throughout the week or at a picnic. So we have the special presence of Christ in all our worship services! Even during the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.
  20. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Given that we believe that there are elect infants who die in infancy, we believe it is up to God, via his good pleasure and decree, to regenerate individuals when He so decrees. If He, wants to use the waters of baptism to regenerate an individual, He can. The doctrine is mostly gotten to by good and necessary consequence of the previously mentioned truth. The WCF helps:

    Ch 27
    III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

    Ch 28
    I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

    VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

    Here's a paper on the subject that I put together a while back:

    In response to your comment that Christ is there 'in your midst' as shown in Matt 18: Well, this passage is specific to when the leaders of the church are issuing discipline against a member of the body, just to be accurate.

    Consider the Godheads omnipresence-both of us believe that, right? During the sacraments, which are the two things Christ left His bride, prior to his ascension, cannot/should not, be seen along the same lines as omnipresence.
  21. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    baptist churches, at least some of them, would trace their spiritual linage to Pentecost itself, so would that not be a true Church?
  22. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Can not God either directly applied His saving grace towards the infants though, or grant them saving faith, without the need for the water?
  23. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Since Christ has left the church two specific sacraments that He felt were instrumental, He can use the waters of baptism when He pleases, but He is not bound to use the waters (as the confession states).
  24. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Think that a lot of this kind of discussion seems to come down to how we view the 2, as either Sacraments or Ordinances.
  25. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Not to pull this too far off track, but by historical notation, the Presbyterian Puritans, for example, used the term "ordinance" as much as they used the term "sacrament," especially in their personal writings. They were used interchangeably. In the WSC the word "ordinance" is used 4 times and the word "sacrament" 10 times. In the WLC, "ordinance" is used 26 times, and "sacrament" 67 times. Michael Harrison wrote "Infant Baptism God's Ordinance" and John Cotton wrote "Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance", where Samuel Bolton wrote, "The Guard of the Tree of Life, a Discourse on the Sacraments," and Ursinus in his commentary on the HC describes both "What are the signs, and what the things signified in the Sacraments" and "the ordinance" of baptism. John Owen uses the term "ordinance" a whopping 742 times in his writings. He uses the term "sacrament" 84 times. Burroughs in "Gospel Worship" uses the term "ordinance" 104 times. He uses the term "sacrament" 109 times. Theologically, they closely mean the same thing, and are both part of explaining elements in the idea of the unbreakable covenant of Christ. The difference lies in the fact that praying, preaching and singing are also ordinances, but baptism and the supper are sacraments. See the difference here:

    Sacrament. "The word, having been transferred from military affairs to sacred uses, was employed by ecclesiastical writers to signify any mystery or sacred and not obvious doctrine. Scripture more properly calls them “signs of the covenant" (Gen. 9:12,13; 17:11), “signs and seals" of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:11), and simply “signs” (Ex. 12:13), “patterns” (hypodeigmata, Heb. 8:5; 9:23) and “figures" (antitypa, 1 Pet. 3:21)." (Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (Vol. 3) 338.

    Ordinance. I think Thomas Ridgley has a good definition for the nature of an ordinance, "an outward and ordinary means of which Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation." The Works of Thomas Ridgley (Vol. 4), 41.

    When someone says "ordinances" are from Baptist Theology and "sacraments" are from Presbyterian Theology, one should use the emoticon <rolleyes>. It has nothing to do with that.
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  26. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Nonsense. See "More than a Symbol: The British Baptist Recovery of Baptismal Sacramentalism (Studies in Baptist History and Thought" or
    Baptist Sacramentalism: (Studies in Baptist History and Thought) and
    Baptist Sacramentalism 2
  27. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Per the 1689 Baptist Confession, there are some real differences evident between Presbyterian sacraments and baptist ordinances.
  28. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    No one denies there are differences but the above books are convincing that Baptists have historically had a sacramental theology. Eg, see 1689 Confession 30:7. One of the great particular Baptists, Nehemiah Coxe, who probably had a big imput into the 1689 Confession, quite freely talked about sacramental theology in his personal writings.
  29. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for citing. I think I'm with Dr. McMahon, though, in using the terms interchangeably. I (and I think other RBs), believe that God confers special grace with the sacraments--not saving grace, since that has been conferred before the sacraments are administered--but a special, sweet, ineffable measure of His presence when we partake of the Word visibly illustrated in the elements. We do them because, as you said, He left them for us, and by faith we receive much benefit thereby. I fear there are some in Baptist circles who have lost sight of the glory and majesty and meaning of the sacraments, and I wish as a whole we would regain it and appreciate it more.
  30. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Interesting that you note this as this is the same discussion I have been having with Dachaser. How do u know this to be true? How many people have been baptized in a credo setting, only to later fall away, never to return? In the same way, how do u know God doesn't actually regenerate at this time if he so wills?
    You yourself say:

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